Monday, April 11, 2011

for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee

To read or listen to Charles Murray requires that you park everything you know and feel and believe, and give in to the "objectivity" of scientific inquiry. That was the case when he co-authored The Bell Curve, 1994, which argued for and was sustained as proof of the genetic inferiority of blacks, and thus a rationale for eliminating the welfare state; The welfare state encourages the creation of black babies, and thus the demise of the nation. I can't say that President Clinton was influenced by the ruckus created by the book. His welfare reform(1996) which threw single moms off the rolls, might just be a coincidence.

To accept the premise of The Bell Curve you have to believe that: You can enslave a people, free them but deny them access to education, jobs, and human services. Ghettoize them, deny them job opportunities, disgrace and humiliate them in the public media. Flood their communities with drugs, profile them for arrest, fail to represent them politically, and assassinate their leaders. and That none of the above explains why they may not be as "productive" as their white tormentors.

The Bell Curve is one of the foundations texts of the right. It is the thinking that informs the rhetoric of the idea that we are a welfare nation, and that we ought to dismantle it. In the interim Murray has authored other texts: "Challenging 'educational romanticism' he wrote Real Education: Four Simple Truths for Bringing America's Schools Back to Reality. His "four simple truths" are:
1. "Ability varies."
2. "Half of the children are below average."
3. "Too many people are going to college."
4. "America's future depends on how we educate the academically gifted." wiki

Now Mr. Murray is speaking in advance of a new book in which he posits the unhappy condition of white America. He spoke to his peers at the AEI on April fourth and c-span recorded it here:
Here are some of the highlights I took from the lecture:
American Exceptionalism ( I have been looking for a definition) is the "project" of a free people governing themselves without the interference of government. "The American exception is we are the only nation that does not try to maximize wealth or power. The only nation in which citizens are free from class bondage."

The four (four is a convenient number) virtues of these self governing people are: industriousness, honesty, marriage, and religion. As regards religion Murray admits that he is an agnostic. In his new book he is going to focus on the "working class" white, non-hispanic population, and a coda regarding the behavior of a new elite, (they are so rich they don't care about the rest of us anymore). What he has been graphing and pushing into statistical results are the following conclusions: Since 1960, working class white men are increasingly not working. He stopped his data collection before the great recession as to not skew for this anomaly. (the end of the American Industrial Age, throwing millions out of work, happened before 2008). Men are increasingly leaching off of their wives. Middle and upper middle class men are working harder than ever.

Marriage among working class white people is falling off and out of wedlock births is growing at an alarming rate among working class white women. Despite what you might guess, upper class whites are married. The consequences of this include the "fact" that single people don't provide social capital. they are selfish and don't volunteer. Among other things I heard was the "fact" that marriage civilizes men. He didn't choose to talk about honesty and well he might not for if you included un-indicted conspirators in the greatest theft in the history of humankind you might see an alarming rise in upper class white collar crime.

He got on a roll re. religion. Despite his own non-participation he observed that the secular states of Europe are about to implode owing to little more than their lack of church attendance and we would be well advised to take a lesson from their failures.

The conclusions he reached were summarized in the following statement: "the working class is making it difficult for their fellow citizens", and culminated in the conclusion at minute 41.55 of the tape, that they are "unsuited for citizenry in a free society." My jaw dropped. Not one reaction from the audience nor question from them regarding this statement. This is class war writ large. When handed the softball question from the former head of the AEI, "given what your prior work concludes, and aware that for political reasons you stopped short of including black and hispanic persons in your new study, nonetheless, did you do any work that included them?" "Well yes, that is Chapter 17. Surprisingly when you include blacks and hispanics the rates don't go up." They are off the hook. Or more accurately, the white working class are the new blacks.

All is not lost. There is hope. The Tea-Party has the answers. The same ones his libertarian brothers have been promoting for these many years. The question for me is, will the members of the so called tea party, who like to represent themselves as the white working class heart of the heartland, accept the premise that they are not fit for citizenship.

"The taste for the superfluous holds sway over a people who are still unacquainted with the necessary". Marquis Astolphe de Custine by way of Donna Leon.